Key developments concerning Iraq

Friday, May 23, 2003

  • American forces captured Aziz Sajih al-Numan, a former senior Baath Party leader who is No. 8 on Central Command's list of the 55 most-wanted Iraqis. Al-Numan was identified as the Baath Party's regional command chairman responsible for west Baghdad, and is the highest-ranking person on the list of 55 to be taken into custody so far.

    The United States began deploying its most experienced peacekeeping unit in the Iraqi capital. The U.S. Army's 1st Armored Division is scheduled to replace the 3rd Infantry Division -- a move that will reduce the number of U.S. troops in Iraq from 170,000 to just over 100,000.

    The U.S.-backed Iraqi Health Ministry ordered an immediate health survey around the sprawling but dormant Tuwaitha nuclear plant outside Baghdad. Members of the Iraqi nuclear agency have expressed worry about radiation damage to those living nearby.

    The U.N. Development Program's chief adviser, Maurice Albert, said electricity shortages will taper off soon. He said Iraq's dilapidated power plants need overhauls but are still functioning. However, over the next few years, he said the country needs massive investment to fix its energy infrastructure.

    In another sign normalcy could be returning, 740 Iraqi refugees left Lebanon by bus bound for their homes.

    The International Committee of the Red Cross suspended shuttles from Baghdad to the northern city of Irbil after a Japanese aid vehicle was peppered by 15 bullets. No one was injured and the ICRC did not say when the shooting occurred.

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